Gulf Coast Produce of Alabama, Biloxi, Miss., announced plans to expand into the south Alabama market this summer, expanding the company's distribution of fresh produce, as well as frozen food, along the Gulf Coast in Alabama and Florida.

The wholesale produce distributor will lease the 94,000-square-foot building on East Section Street, last used by Peavey Electronics. The expansion is expected to bring on 25 new employees and rake in about $7.5 million in the first year.

The center will also have a place for local farmers to clean and package fresh produce that can then be distributed to a broad customer base, such as hospitals and schools. Upgrades to the facility, such as the addition of refrigerated docks, coolers and freezers, are expected to begin immediately as part of a first phase. Completion is expected by the end of May.

The building has the capacity to hold 22 tractor trailer loads of food. The fresh and frozen food distribution center will primarily serve restaurant and institutional accounts in Baldwin Count, and Escambia and Santa Rosa counties in Florida. Target businesses include healthcare institutions, independent and chain restaurants, casinos, schools and colleges.